The Food and Wine Hedonist

leave your inhibitions at the door

Top Chef Charleston Episode 13: Trial by Fire

They were down to the final three and the action moved to Secrets in Akumal, which I’ve seen on my way down to Tulum, but never been to.   I had my hopes up when I saw this in the previews for this episode …



I started thinking that it’d be cool if the two ladies just decided, “screw it, we’re on vacation.  Let’s make like the German tourists and go TOPLESS!!!”

Or – even better –  the camera follows them as they take a stroll down the beach and end up at the Desire Resort where it’s not just clothing-optional but is a full-on swingers-type place that looks totally luxurious and sophisticated but is probably sketchy as all hell  and no one one really looks like anyone featured on the website…


from their website

from their website


…  but they do try to wear skimpy outfits even though they obviously forgot the mantra of “choose bathing suits for the body you have, not the body you want to have”  but that’s ok, because there’s something liberating and dare I say sexy about having that confidence in yourself to not give a shit what other people think but seriously that would be a very long walk because the two resorts are a good 30 minute drive from each other.

At least that’s what I heard about Desire Resort.  From a friend.


Quickfire Challenge

Since it was down to three contestants, this was the last Quickfire.  The only thing at stake was that the winner would get a free vacation to a Secrets resort.   Which are infinitely better than Desire.  Again, so I heard.    They had to make a dish featuring habanero peppers.

Brooke: Roasted pork loin with orange & green habanero salsas

Sheldon: Pan-roasted chayote squash stuffed with tamale & charred habanero salsa

Shirley: Masa dumpling with poached egg, chayote squash, habanero & chicharron

Winner: Brooke


Elimination Challenge

They had to make a dish using traditional Mayan ingredients and cooked using  ancient methods.   That meant over an open flame and with only their knives – no other tools like blenders or grinders.

The contestants thought it was strange that they would do one of these oddball challenges like this at the very end and I have to say I agree with them.    Actually, I’d have to say – it’s a FUCKING terrible challenge.   You have three of the best chefs in America and you’re having them cook a meal that no one would ever want to eat?   Where they can’t show technique or presentation?  Where key ingredients – as Brooke found out – that are needed for a balanced flavor profile aren’t there?

Brooke: Hoja santa leaf-steamed snapper with bean & corn ragout, jicama & papaya relish

Sheldon: Grilled snapper with annatto crab sauce, Yucatan vegetables & habanero salsa

Shirley: Hoja santa leaf-grilled grouper with crustacean habanero tomato sauce & dragonfruit corn salad.

Winner: Shirley

Gone: Sheldon.  It’s probably no surprise that this was a gutpunch.  I love that guy.


Random Thoughts

– Brooke’s fish was good but everything else was flat or  odd because ingredients she was counting on – like limes or grapefruit – weren’t available.

– Sheldon had good flavors, but he didn’t test cooking his fish on the grill like Brooke and Shirley did.  They ended up cooking the fish in a hola santa leaf and his stuck to the grill.   So instead of a filet he had little chunks of fish in a pile.

– It was predictable because you always get leeway with sides, but messing up protein is usually the kiss of death.

– This episode was booooorrrriiiiinnnnnnnggggg.   There were  a lot of shots where they’re talking about their journeys as a chef and what it means to them being this close to the final.   You know, what they’ve been talking about all season long.  They really should’ve done that excursion to Desire Resort.

– Seriously, I’ve never been to Desire, but a long time ago we were at another resort and a couple ask us if we wanted to check it out with them.  We took a pass.  But it really could be a very lovely place.  If anyone from Desire wants to float me and Boom Boom a free stay, I’m more than happy to post about it to my THOUSANDS of loyal fans.

– Secrets looks great and is fairly new, but the best place we’ve stayed down there is Banyan Tree Mayakoba. It’s in a different stratosphere.

– Actually, the conditions that they had to cook under – over fire with minimal tools  – is what Hartwood in Tulum does.  If you missed me talking about it before, it is probably my favorite restaurant I’ve ever been to – IN THE WORLD.   I bought the cookbook and have some recipes I’m going to post sooner or later.



About thefoodandwinehedonist

I don't know everything about the world of food and wine, but I'm not going to let a small detail like that stop me from blogging about it.

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This entry was posted on February 28, 2017 by in Television, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , .
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